Mulberry – Easy-to-Grow Berries for Container Gardeners

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Mulberry trees have been well loved by historic figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Washington, purchased 1500 white and black

Dwarf Mulberry ‘Dwarf Everbearing’  (Morus nigra)

Dwarf Mulberry ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ (Morus nigra)

mulberry trees (‘Morus alba’ and ‘Morus nigra’) in 1774, and used them for presidential plantings. Jefferson grew these fruit trees in Monticello, Virginia where he lined both sides of the road around his house with mulberry trees.

Mulberry trees are popular throughout the world, including Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Lately, the demand for these trees has surged in the U.S. and finding mulberry trees that bear fruit early, grow rapidly and produce sweet berries is sometimes difficult. At Logee’s, we have the perfect varieties of mulberry trees for containers or if you have outdoor space, they can be planted directly in the ground for many years of enjoyment.

The Fruit
Mulberries range from cylindrical to oblong and can get as long as two inches in length. The ripe berries dangle from the stem showing off their brilliant black or deep red coloring. Their taste is reminiscent of a cross between a strawberry and raspberry and the flavor can be slightly sweet to honey sweet. They have been used in ice cream, jams, jellies and pies. The fragile skin of the mulberry has discouraged commercial use of this berry but if you don’t mind purple berry juice stains on your fingertips, then it is well worth growing this tree in your home garden.

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How to Grow Scented Geraniums

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Joy Logee Martin, Byron’s mother and the second generation owner, loved her scented geraniums. It wasn’t unusual to find scented geranium leaves pinned to her lapel. “Scenteds,” as they were often called, were popular in the early 1900’s and although they didn’t have big showy flowers like their cousins, their surprisingly fragrant foliage made them the shining stars in bouquets. It wasn’t unusual to have scents such rose, lemon, lime, orange, nutmeg, almond, apple, anise, pine, musk, violet, lavender, balm, oak, or peppermint emanating from a grouping of flowers.

“Scenteds” have other uses too. They were often found in sachets and potpourri bowls or their leaves would be placed in a crystal bowl of water and the fragrance would waft throughout the household. The Rose Scented Geranium became popular in cooking. It wasn’t unusual to have rose flavored honey or rose flavored shortbread, simply by soaking the leaves and extracting the rose flavor out of the leaves and then using the liquid as a food flavoring.

Certain conditions are required to enhance the flowering and foliage of growing Scented Geraniums.

Growing Conditions
Like so many in this genus, they tolerate dry conditions making them excellent subjects for the container gardener. Since Scented Geraniums are dry land plants, they need a period of dryness between watering where the soil is brought to visual dryness or even a slight wilt of the foliage. Then fully saturate the soil and let the water run through. If wet conditions are a problem, a clay pot is a good choice for your container since it allows the soil to reach dryness quicker than glazed terracotta or plastic containers.

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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sure They Are Meyer Lemons

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Meyer lemons have become a culinary prize for chefs adding their zestful and tart yet floral sweetness to recipes around the world. Meyers are some of the most loved lemons grown in a home environment. In a small pot, Meyer Lemon, or Citrus limon, has the ability to produce an abundance of lemons, which are more flavorful and juicier than the ordinary table lemon.

The exact origin of Meyer Lemon is unknown. Some sources say it is a cross between a lemon and a sour orange; others say it is a cross between a Eureka lemon and a Lisbon lemon. Whatever the exact cross, Meyer Lemon was identified by and named after Frank N. Meyer in 1908. Meyer lemons have thin skins and because of this, they have typically not been used as a commercial lemon crop but with an increased demand for their unique flavor, they are becoming more widely available. However, you no longer have to wait for them to be commercially grown because you can produce an abundance of your own fruit at home.

The Meyer Lemon is the hardiest lemon and it performs well if night temperatures range between 50-60°F in winter. Meyer Lemon can take cool temperatures down to 35°F for short duration’s. It produces an abundance of flowers and fruits year-round even at a young age.

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Fruiting the Miracle Berry (Synsepalum dulcificum)

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Miracle Fruit

Synsepalaum dulcificum, is known as the Miracle Berry or Miracle Fruit. It originates from West Africa and has the extraordinary ability to change the way your taste buds perceive sour and sweet. The effect comes from a compound known as miraculin. Simply put, the miraculin temporarily blocks the receptors that perceive sour and it also binds protons on the tongue and activates the sweet receptors. The effect is only temporary and once the protein is washed away with saliva then the taste buds go back to normal. The effect can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Here is how we recommend tasting the Miracle Berry.

Put the whole berry in your mouth. Do not bite into the berry because there is a seed inside. Work the skin and pulp of the berry and coat your mouth and tongue with the taste. Savor the sweetness. In 3-4 minutes start tasting foods that are typically sour, like lemons and sour pickle. If you bite into a tomato, it will be the sweetest tomato you have ever eaten. If you sip on dry red wine, it will be a sweet wine instead of dry. The effect lasts from 20 minutes to several hours so plan accordingly.

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Grow Your Own Delicious Chocolate (Theobroma cacao)

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Chocolate, originally found in South America, is known as “The Food of the Gods.” The first record of chocolate or cocoa dates back to 1900 BC and  Cacao pods and chocolate barsthe Aztec people used chocolate seeds as a form of currency. Chocolate was served as a bitter beverage in the early days and was believed to be an aphrodisiac and have super powers. Later in Spain, and throughout Europe, sugar was added to the beverage and hot chocolate became a preferred drink even surpassing coffee. Chocolate is well loved today not only as a beverage but also when it’s made into candy bars and used in baking. Today, the health craze has brought us back to its natural form of consuming organic raw cacao nibs known for their antioxidant compounds called polyphenols as well as other health benefits. Growing your own chocolate tree is a relatively easy undertaking if you follow a few cultural requirements.

Tree Size

The chocolate tree is a small-to-medium sized tree and grows as an understory species in the rainforest so it tolerates and even thrives under dappled light or partial sun conditions.

Container Grown Chocolate
As a cultivated plant for the container gardener, the chocolate tree is easy to grow but it needs a bit of room to produce fruit. Plants are generally grown from seed and need 3-4 years to reach fruiting size. This means the tree will be 5-6’ in height with a trunk caliber of 1-1/2 to 2” in diameter. So to grow chocolate inside, a large, sunny and warm spot is needed.

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Winter Blooming Jasmine (Jasmine polyanthum)

by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Winter Jasmine is known for its pink buds that open to delicate, 5-petaled, star-shaped flowers with an intoxicating fragrance. This climbing jasmine from Winter JasmineChina has a profuse display of fragrant white flowers that appear in the dead of winter. It is the national flower in many countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Jasmine is also a popular girl’s name in many countries including the United States.

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Growing Kumquats- The Pop-in-Your-Mouth Fruit

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

The Kumquat is thought to have originated in Southern Japan and China.  It was originally known as the “gam kwat” with an early reference in the 12th century. Fortunella margarita 'Nagami'Kumquats are loved for their oval, oblong or round tiny fruit that produce abundantly on small trees in the ground or prolifically in containers. The bite-size, pop-in-your-mouth fruit have edible skin.  Some varieties are sweet on the outside and tart on the inside; others are sweet all the way through. In 1864, Robert Fortune, a collector from the London Horticultural Society introduced kumquats to Europe, and shortly thereafter to North America. In 1915, Kumquats were no longer classified as Citrus japonica but were named after Mr. Fortune and the new genus became  Fortunella.

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